Saturday, 5 May 2007

MSN does something right

It has become something of a fashion to slam everything that comes out of Redmond on principle. And I must admit that my preferences have been to go for community supported, open source wiki type apps lately.

BUT

There are some areas where as an old geezer I am sadly deficient. And I don't just mean my typing skills. Many years ago now I taped a broadcast concert which had Leo Kottke as the opener. And I really liked that style of guitar playing, though I would be hard pressed to tell you what it is exactly. See, I have a blind spot for the labels that the industry puts on music. What, for example, is "alternative" supposed to mean? I know I generally dislike heavy metal or country - but not to the point where I would never listen to any of it. And every so often my kids (who always commandeer the car radio) find a song on a station I have never heard of and I think "Hey, I like this!" but what "genre" it might be I have no idea.

So anyway even though I have an old cassette tape of Kottke lying around somewhere, I never found a CD of his. And I get to hang around all sorts of record shops with and without the kids. You would think that the advent of downloading and so on I would have found more but maybe Kottke is not popular enough or is good at DRM. Or maybe I wasn't bothered enough to go look for his music. But having heard some on the radio recently (CBC Radio 2 actually - Jurgen Gothe) I looked him up again and started hitting pay dirt. There's a neat way to search Google for music that's explained on YouTube. (No, I won't give you a link. You know how to use a search engine and anyway you might find something else even better).

After a while I found www.pandora.com which allows you to create your own "radio station" - something that they and MSN figured out. (Aha! he does come back to the point eventually) This neat gadget plays me a Kottke track then some Cockburn - even better - and then something I don't like as much. But that's alright because you can tell it what you like and what you don't like. For the last hour or so I have been listening to some brilliant guitar picking by people I have never heard of. It's playing someone called Brooks Williams right now. And I still don't know if this is a genre or not.

Oh, and the best thing is that it is free once you register. Just give it a zip code. If you don't actually live in one it's not that hard to recall a real one is it?

UPDATE May 14

I have just received an email from Pandora that says that since my IP address is in Canada they are going to block me listening to their service.

Due to international licensing constraints, we are deeply, deeply sorry to say
that we must begin proactively preventing access to Pandora's streaming service
from Canada. We began blocking access from almost all countries outside the U.S.
last week and had originally hoped to maintain access to Canada. However, it has
become clear in the last week that we just haven't been able to make enough
progress to continue streaming.

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